Mental health, Spirituality

Choosing love while I remain true to myself

It’s been an amazing six months of personal growth and accomplishments dear readers. I recently posted a poem of mine on my IG profile under the handle @emotionalmusings (I have reposted it here) that revealed a personal truth. I have purposely held myself back from success for the past 40 years. Why you may be wondering? For fear of failure, for fear of not being good enough and finally because I didn’t believe in myself. It has been a long and winding road for me. One that required lots of twists, turns and quiet self reflection. Ultimately it took losing everything, my sanity, my personal safety and my home for me to discover that in the end love for myself is the only superpower that I needed. Something that was inside me all along, I just wasn’t accessing it!

If someone had told me that being involved in an extremely difficult domestic violence relationship eight years ago would be one of the catalysts for my evolution, I would of never believed them. Getting punched in the face is quite jarring yet it showed me over time that I wasn’t as worthless as I believed myself to be. There are no magic pills, absolute directives or a master plan to figure out one’s purpose here on the journey. I’m among one of the people in life who had to learn these important things the hard way. Perhaps you can relate. Please put your own story in the comments below!

Perhaps it’s my hard headed Calabrese roots, my fierce independent nature or my insatiable curiosity for why things are the way they are that has led me down a more difficult path than most. A dear friend of mine recently stated to me that I always seem to have so much on my plate. That is definitely true. Juggling lots of “life balls” is all that I know and something I have had loads of practice with since I was quite young.

I follow my heart always and air on my emotional side most often over my intellectual understanding of any given situation. One may say I through caution to the wind. I pride myself on leading with my human foot when faced with adversity or confrontation. I love that about myself and the more I choose to follow my heart, the more confident and content I become. It has taken years to gain this inner peace and now that I have discovered it I desire more of it!

The self loathing, self doubt, feelings of inferiority, and uselessness seem light years away now. I have survived some dark years. I firmly believe that without those years I wouldn’t have found my path of enlightenment. I give thanks for that time, I don’t regret it. Important life lessons and poor life choices resulted in some truly brighter days.

I write and post a lot about the need for more of us to show empathy to one another. In my opinion we must become love warriors against hate and evil doers. It’s those people among us that are crying out, in a more negative way, for love and acceptance. Humanity’s fate is under attack. It’s ugly and it evokes fear. I feel it is the root cause for people to in turn act in an ugly way towards each other. Bottom line…..ugliness, fear and hate needs to be challenged. The only recipe for change is love. Love is the only answer my friends.

Love hard, whole heartedly and often. Hate is easy. It takes more courage and faith to choose love over hate. In a real and genuine way, I challenge you to try a little more love in your life. Especially with complete strangers. A bit more empathy will open your heart to more understanding of not only that stranger but for yourself.

Trust me. I am living proof. I have survived, now I am striving. This is what winning looks like😁

Mental health, Spirituality

Steadily climbing a mountain

One of my favorite quotes is by Sir Edmund Hillary, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” Today this quote really resonates with me. I am acknowledging and giving myself the gift of self love by recognizing how far I have come in only a year. My C-PTSD has been in remission for three and a half years. I have gone from being a mess upon the floor, sobbing and in a dissoactive episode to holding a management position at work while self publishing my own book of poetry. I’m really so very grateful and elated with how truly wonderful it feels to have inner peace and strength within my soul.

On Tuesday my team at work and I witnessed a near fatal car accident right in front of our window. It was the most horrible and terrifying scene I have ever witnessed. The sounds and visuals have left their scar on my heart. The gentleman’s truck looked like God himself crushed it with his hands and dropped it out of the sky onto its roof where it landed. My store is next to the freeway and the driver’s truck came literally flying off the road landing on its roof on the grass across the street from us. Airbags deployed, windows busted out and smoke billowing from it, the truck looked unreal. The five of us dropped what we were doing and immediately ran outside. Three of us called 911 while the my two other younger coworkers ran up to the truck itself. One of them had grabbed our fire extinguisher and used it to smother the smoke and kept a fire from starting. Her heroic actions really moved me. She later admitted that her own father had died in a similar situation so I felt it was a kind of redemption on her part in trying to save this man’s life. The EMT’S pulled him from his vehicle alive and consciousness which is truly miraculous given the circumstances.

For the rest of the day we all kept hugging each other. We used our nervous energy to clean our store to a like new condition. When I closed up Tuesday night I felt a sense of pride for how we coped with the days extraordinary and unusual events. I can honestly say when you witness such an extreme example of life and death in front of your own eyes, while in a job setting it changes your perspective.

Here’s what I took away from Tuesday.

1. Life is too short, each moment is a gift. I will not waste my time with frivolous worries about things out of my control. My time is precious, therefore I must prioritize accordingly.

2. I work with 5 very selfless people who I know have my back in a special way. That feeling is priceless both on a professional and personal level.

3. I am getting stronger. This same situation for my past self would’ve driven me up under the covers for a few days. Left me a puddle of tears and nerves.

4. I can do this……I managed and led people through a crisis. I continued to do my job in a professional manner despite the chaos. We all went back to work serving and assisting our customers.

All in all as I reflect now I can see myself steadily rising up from the ashes of despair and heartache. One foot in front of the other I climb. I keep going even though my mind is screaming “NO” and “you can’t do it”. I’m proving to myself everyday that the challenges I face are all preparing me for greater things. The best is still yet to come which is what gets me out of bed everyday!

I never thought I would achieve success again after so many failures. Attempting suicide, being strangled to within inches of my life on my previous job eight years ago, going through a hell of a divorce, surviving domestic violence and rape, losing touch with my children, being homeless, coping with my fiance’s health issues. The list is lengthy and not for the faint of heart.

Last week I made a life long dream come true all on my own. I self published my first book of poetry. It is available as both an e-book and in paperback through Amazon.com. I have created a small following here with this blog and my writing profile on Instagram called Emotional Musings.

I am currently working on putting together a book signing event here locally with family and friends. Sharing my success with those who have loved, supported and believed in me is such a blessing. It gives me the chills that I have so many wonderfully loving people in my life today.

I’m bursting with positivity and gratitude. And yes…….

I have survived and conquered over myself.

Living my motto, “Triumphing over trauma “.

Mental health, Spirituality

Some musings on my musings

I’ve been doing a lot of introspective reflecting as of late. What makes me tick and how far in these last six months I have come. A year ago I was utterly depressed, unemployed, out of shape and directionless. Something started to change around mid to late August and looking back I’m unsure of what that precipitating moment actually was. All I know now is that in September I connected with an amazing woman in Australia who gave me the selfless gift of simply believing in me. Her suggestion that I should start sharing my writing has absolutely changed my life!

Being able to let down my defenses, walls and whatever other terms can be applied here has proven so freeing! I gained so much self confidence that I finally applied to work for a company I have admired for many years. As fate would have it this coffee chain was building a new store in my neighborhood less the a mile from my house. I carried myself quite fearlessly into my interview and landed the job. After only a short time I was promoted to management. I began walking to and from my new job daily while starting to care again about what I was eating. I’m a petite woman and have always been naturally small yet when I gain even ten pounds I feel uncomfortable. This new me gave me back a spring in my step! My sassy self was finally shining on my outside again😁

Just yesterday I made one of my childhood dreams come true. I self published a book of poetry on Amazon entitled, “Emotional Musings” using my maiden name Maria Pratico. Afterwards, I felt like I floated on a cloud to work!! I’m so damn proud of myself my dear readers. I have always used writing as a way to cope with uncomfortable emotions, and being an empath sometimes they were feelings that weren’t my own. When I was younger I was really mixed up about this part of myself so my writing helped me make sense of it, process it and let it go.

I’ve always felt different from my peers and even anybody in my family. A blacksheep, a sore thumb, someone who walked to the beat of her own drum. I’m a true middle child who’s able to get along well with others but I still felt like I was outside looking in. I was a decent student, made friends easily yet I have always known that I perceive things quite differently than most. Now I have reckoned with that part of myself that felt strange.

I love the weirdness that my creative side allows me. I appreciate the way I hear music and the feelings I get from it. I understand that I feel stuff on another level, a more complex way that most wouldn’t be able to articulate into words. God has brought me down dark paths because He trusts that I will find my way back and learn from it.

I’m a late bloomer. An analytical thinker when it comes to these intense emotions, musings I call them. I have a highly tuned emotional intelligence that has delayed my progress in understanding certain important aspects of life. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. As a middle aged woman that sounds ridiculous but to me it’s exciting.

I’m just getting started. I’m coming into my own. Watch out world because I’m ready to roar and I’m finally ready for it all!!!!!!

Mental health, Spirituality

Keeping love alive

Does anybody have a “love hangover” today, the day after Valentine’s Day? I must admit to feeling some aftershocks from being shown so much love yesterday. From the moment I opened my eyes until the moments before I closed them, love was surrounding me and encompassing me in its warmth and glory. Yesterday was a magical day for giving and receiving love from my friends, family and even my customers at the store. Of course my fiance stepped up his game too by making me feel special, very appreciated and of course loved yesterday as we celebrated Valentine’s Day together. All in all I had awesome day!

I know I have written this before in previous blog posts but I must emphasize it again here. My mission in life is to always spread love and kindness to all I encounter along this journey called life. Especially those who need it the most, the downtrodden, forgotten amongst our society. Those who are homeless are a good example of this. I observe those folks getting treated and judged so poorly on a daily basis, it breaks my heart.

I have a confession to make here. About two years ago, my fiance and I found ourselves without a secure living situation. We were homeless for about three months while we lived in our car. We showered at our local YMCA, ate at food pantries and sometimes slept overnight on the beach. It wasn’t easy and the only positive part of it is that at least we were together. I can’t imagine having to bear that time alone on the streets by myself. Some days were better than others. Some days I was so terribly sad and depressed not knowing where we were going to end up and how we were going to rise out of the terrible spot we felt stuck in. Our cell service was cut off too so we became experts at finding and utilizing free WiFi in order to stay in touch with our loved ones.

I have seen life from different angles and perspectives. My experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today. I take nothing for granted and try to be as grateful for everything I have today as I possibly can be on a daily basis. Anything can happen at anytime that can shift one’s world, turning everything upside down. Believe me dear readers, I am living proof of it!

I like to tell others when describing my life that I have lived a few different lives during my lifetime so far these 41 years. My family owned a car dealership while I was growing up and we enjoyed an upper middle class lifestyle. Then while I was married, my ex-husband was a hardworking blue collar type of guy who usually worked more than one job which afforded me the ability to be a stay at home mother for ten years while my boys were little. Then I went through my divorce and found myself working three jobs to try and survive. As I began having nervous breakdowns that required me to be hospitalized so many times I found myself homeless for the 1st time. I couldn’t afford my rental house because I had lost all of my jobs one by one so I was offered a friend’s couch to sleep on. That experience was extremely humbling, complicated and difficult.

It took me years to rebuild my life after going through so much loss. I have a keen awareness of how much grief and loss can affect a person’s outlook in life. I was basically just trying to survive everyday, I was definitely not thriving. It has taken years of intensive treatment, therapy, healing and rivers of tears to get me to where I am today.

There is not one day that goes by that I don’t pause, allow myself some quiet time to sit and reflect on my past. I whisper Thank you God for keeping me going forward, pushing me even a millimeter more when I wanted to give up. For allowing some wonderful people to come into my life and inspire me to want to do better. For guiding me through the darkness until I could see just a small speck of light. For keeping my faith, hope and belief alive enough so I never quit. There were a few times I did consider ending it all. I thought those who loved me would be better off without the burden of worrying about me, the pain of the disappointment I felt I had become.

Yes dear readers, I have expierienced some very dark days. I have also had the pleasure of feeling some truly amazing moments too. I am grateful for all of it. Without the dark one cannot appreciate the light. Hold on tight to those you love and tell them how you feel. Don’t judge others for there but the grace of God go any of us. Be kind always and act as if God himself is always watching you (because he is) In the end life is short. Love is all that matters. Spread it generously to all everyday and keep love ALIVE💖

Mental health, Spirituality

The intense feeling of anticipation

Today is the day my dear readers!!! I am sitting aboard a flight that will take me to my son! I have been dreaming of this exact amazing moment for over 2 1/2 years. That’s a long time to wait patiently. This entire situation with my children and becoming estranged from them has almost broken me completely. It definitely tested my courage and beliefs. I have learned an entire new level of being patient and how fruitful the outcome can be! Once what seemed a long shot and something that seemed was never going to happen is now just a plane ride away! Be still my rapidly beating heart.

It’s also been about four years since I have traveled alone. I have been so consumed with caring and helping out others that realizing this fact caught me off guard. I have gotten into a very comfortable routine in these last three months on my new job. I realize now that I haven’t disclosed to you readers what I do exactly for my day job to pay the bills.

Three months ago I interviewed with Starbucks as a barista. When I was well into the interview with my manager she asked me if I wanted to be a Shift Supervisor since she was looking to fill that position as well. I immediately turned her down. I wasn’t confident enough having not been in the full time work force for years. I have spent the past three years caring for my fiance since his medical issues had gotten more severe. In every past position I held in retail, I had been asked to be part of the management team. I never actually thought I could do it and that level of responsibility kind of scared me.

Just two weeks into my journey as a Starbucks barista, the opportunity presented itself again. My manager was in a desperate need to hire a shift because one of ours was transferring. I decided to say yes and go for it. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The position is quite challenging and there have been days that I thought would break me yet I soldier on and even surprise myself with how well I am doing. Most people are with the company much longer before they get promoted. Timing is everything. This is my time and I’m beyond proud of myself that I just did it. The level of confidence and self esteem I have acquired by taking this position is immeasurable and priceless. I have toyed around with the idea of working for Starucks for years honestly. It wasn’t until they started to build our new store so close to my home that I took it as a sign from the universe, it was the right time.

This post is about connection and anticipation. These two examples of my reconnection with my oldest son and my decision to work for a company I have admired for years is all about patience and timing. Having a strong faith that everything I have wanted for years would work itself out took a leap of faith on my part. No action was required. Too many times, especially in our busy society we are forced to define ourselves by what we are “doing”. In both these cases I wasn’t doing anything but simply living my life the best way I knew how by putting one foot in front of the other in a patient and steady manner. I wasn’t attempting to make things “happen” by willfully interjecting myself or making demands on others. It was all about the timing.

I know it’s a cliche but, I believe everything does happen for a reason. God needs us to learn certain lessons in life before he moves us along down a new path. Remaining patient was a real challenge some days and I felt like screaming but I didn’t succumb to my anxiety or worries. In time, my son did call and I did get a good job. It’s all working out in God’s time, not mine.

I wrote this poem in the vein of all of these emotions as I process how long I have waited for this week to come seeing my son. It’s my time for reckoning. Peace✌

Ironic addition to this story……as I sit waiting to take off, the pilot comes on and tells us we have a mechanical issue. We taxied back to the gate and are now in limbo awaiting the final decide if our plane is safe for take off or do we all get on a new plane. More patience and more waiting is required of me. I got this😉

Mental health, Spirituality

I’m still here

In the spirit of it being a new year and all the possibilities it holds, I have been doing a bit of reflection. I have made huge strides and overcome many obstacles in the last six months. I’m deeply humbled and quite proud of myself for bringing some of my dreams into reality. It’s really important to have dreams and I’m glad I never forgot mine completely. There have been a few forces and situations that threatened even that my life would continue and I’d have the ability to carry on. Yet I have overcome those obstacles and have tasted success in a few key areas in my life.

First and foremost I have the chance to reconnect with my son. In just thirteen days we will finally be reunited and I’m so excited about that moment! For now he is enjoying spending time with my family and having a wonderful time. This last month has brought me so much joy and peace being able to communicate with my boy daily. That unbreakable bond that a mother has with her child is something I cherish dearly. The birth of both of my sons changed my life and molded me to who I am today. God’s greatest gift.

Secondly, sharing my writing and connecting with people all over the world is something I had no idea would impact me so positively! I have engaged with so many fascinating people along this writer’s journey and I have learned so much. One of my blog posts was recently published as an article for a larger blog here on WordPress called Coffee Writers Blog. It’s entitled, “How to push the pause button “. I’ve such gratitude for the opportunity to reach a larger audience and spread my story of triumph over trauma. Another of God’s gifts.

My new job and all of the challenges, responsibilities and new information has proven to me how strong I am and how far I have come. Just six months ago I was unemployed and depressed. Deciding to get out of bed was a huge undertaking for me daily. I was anchored down by guilt, shame and sadness. I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel I found myself in. It was a difficult time and I felt paralyzed by fear. Taking that first step in choosing to get back into the world was one of the scariest things I have ever done. The benefits have been so abundantly beautiful and priceless. Regaining my self confidence and self esteem is the best part. I finally feel like me again. Again, another gift from God.

Lastly, my close personal friendships with loved ones and family who have cared for, supported and guided me along my life’s path make my heart complete. I take so much love and inspiration from these people and I wouldn’t be who I am without my tribe by my side. At the end of the day my soul is happy. I feel at peace. The monsters are gone. I’m still here❤

Mental health, Spirituality

Attempting to define patience

I usually feel this way every year at this time. I must admit this year, the feelings are all a little extra. Early January’s weather is partly to blame for this unease. So many truly amazing events are closely on the horizon to take place for me. My heart is beating a little faster and many thoughts are racing quickly through my mind. All of this definitely affects my creative juices as well and I feel I’ve been neglecting my writing. This is the perfect time to try and process it all…. so here it goes.

Early next month I will finally get to see and hug my oldest son! This is a major event over two and a half years in the making. So many intense emotions weigh on my heart. Mostly excitement but also a bit of anxiety which is an emotion I must constantly address daily. I have been so preoccupied with my new position at work that I have had to keep everything going on inside me at bay by doing some extra meditation and light therapy sessions. I have this reoccurring daydream of me running down that long airport gate hallway towards my boy and him picking me up in a tight embrace while tears of joy run down my cheeks. This vision keeps me moving forward yet does little in maintaining my patience for that day to arrive!

I looked up the meaning of patience. The word is defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset“. Over these last two and a half years, I can admit to mastering the acceptance part. The not allowing anger or frustration part has proven more challenging. Anger is not something I have ever felt comfortable expressing and I still struggle with how to release it in a healthy way. I usually stuff it down deep and it will eventually come out indirectly at inopportune times. Mostly hurting only me but sometimes those closest to me, as is natural for everybody. I have always taken this emotion out on myself and blame myself for my role in creating the anger in the first place.

In the circumstances dealing with my boys absence from my life, I view it very differently. I know in my heart I have done everything I could to maintain our relationship. The blame falls squarely on my ex-husband’s shoulders and at some point in life he will reap what he has sown. Intellectually I understand that I have no control over him or what he does. My heart still breaks because I still haven’t been able to speak to my youngest son. All I have control over is how I respond to all of this. I must employ patience and also hope in order to survive this heart ache.

Good things do definitely come to those that can wait. Like Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” My life is a living testimonial to this truth. All I have endured has most definitely made me a much stronger person. This too shall pass and the rewards on the flip side will be magnificent I am sure.

I also have another major project in the works that should by the end of this month come to fruition. The hard work, energy expelled and time I have given to this endeavor is about to pay off quite handsomely. My fiance and I are on the brink of some major life changes in a super positive way financially if all goes according to plan. All the sacrifices and struggles these past three years will have been worth it when we get to finally taste success.

In the meantime, these next three weeks are crucially important. I must maintain my patience, hope and faith. My first step in achieving this is to focus on my gratitude by waking up each day and saying thank you to God. At the end of each day I allow myself some quiet time to again say thank you God. My understanding of spirituality has grown tremendously during these past seven years and I will never forget what got me to this point. My belief and faith in a higher power that governs us all. The lessons that God put in front of me to learn from are priceless. By walking this path, guided by hope, I have almost reached the other side and I finally see that light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Events and circumstances such as mine have the potential to harden a person, making them bitter. As for me it has produced only a stronger resolve in my faith and gratitude. I lead by kindness and love because I know what hate does. I refuse to let anything that happens to me change who I am in my core. I am a healer, a lover and a friend to all. Learning to have patience has been and will continue to be a wonderful gift from our creator. Namaste my dear readers ✌